First-term St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney Tom Daley and one of his assistant prosecutors will compete in a runoff next month, according to preliminary election figures from the secretary of state’s office.
With all precincts reporting, Daley captured 46.3 percent of the vote. Bridget Dinvaut, an assistant district attorney and chairwoman of the Southern University Board of Supervisors, finished second with 34.3 percent.
Geri Broussard Baloney, a LaPlace lawyer who also lost a 2002 race for the district attorney’s job, had 19.4 percent.
Both challengers said crime in St. John was a growing concern, and they blamed the District Attorney’s Office for not keeping habitual offenders behind bars. During the campaign, Daley contended that he has sought lengthy sentences for repeat offenders and plans to continue doing so; he also pledged to work to reduce the length of time for criminal proceedings, upgrade office equipment and counsel youths about avoiding alcohol and drugs.
Daley, 61, spent 18 years as a judge on the Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of Appeal and the 40th Judicial District Court before his 2008 election.
A LaPlace resident who declares no party affiliation, Daley said the District Attorney’s Office has undergone significant technological upgrades during his first term and “jumped into the current century.” Staffers now have laptop computers and email addresses, and computer software is more compatible with other area law enforcement agencies, making court records readily available.
Prior to taking a leave of absence to lead her campaign, Dinvaut, 52, had worked for Daley as an assistant district attorney since 2010 while also maintaining a private legal practice in LaPlace that focuses mostly on employment law.
Dinvaut, a Democrat, graduated from Southern University at New Orleans and received her law degree from the Southern University Law Center.
She said her extensive law enforcement background has given her “a proven record as a crime fighter” and prepared her to become the parish’s top prosecutor.
Dinvaut worked in the St. John Sheriff’s Office from 1986 until 1994, then spent eight years as a federal law enforcement officer in Louisiana and Florida. In 2005, she began practicing law at the New Orleans-based firm of Lemle & Kelleher before joining Daley’s office in 2010.
The runoff is slated for Dec. 6.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.